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Sepsis, commonly called blood poisoning, is a bacterial infection that reaches the blood system. Sepsis is a life threatening medical condition. If it is not properly treated, sepsis can cause permanent injury to the kidneys, liver or lungs, ultimately resulting in death. As attorneys handling medical negligence cases, we have represented individuals who have suffered severe injuries and even death due to healthcare providers’ failure to timely diagnose and/or properly treat sepsis.

Sepsis can turn into a condition termed Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) if the person develops at least two of the following physical problems:

1. Rapid or elevated heart rate (greater than or equal to 90 beats per minute at rest);

2. High or low body temperature (either greater than 110.4? F or 38?C or lower than 98.4?F or 36?C);

3. Respiratory rate of greater than 20 breaths per minute or Pa CO² less than 32 mm/hg;

4. Abnormally high white blood cell count (white blood cells are the body’s reaction to inflammation or infection).

Typically, in addition to the above the individual has an identifiable source of infection in a part of his or her body. Patients that meet the above criteria are termed septic. Anytime a patient has an identifiable source of infection and the above physical findings, medical therapy should be started as soon as possible. Healthcare providers who routinely treat patients with sepsis have published management guidelines for the treatment of sepsis. Since 2004 the Surviving Sepsis Campaign has published guidelines for treatment of patients who have been diagnosed with sepsis ( The guidelines indicate that the best chances for surviving sepsis results from early diagnosis of the condition and the prompt starting of the therapy outlined in the guidelines. The failure to timely recognize sepsis or delay in implementing aggressive medical as recommended may result in the loss of a chance for a cure. Early diagnosis of sepsis and aggressive treatment as recommend by the guidelines can avoid serious permanent injuries and save lives.

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